Snippets #33

James Wood-How Fiction Works


If Macbeth’s story is one of publicized privacy, Raskolnikov’s story is one of scrutinized privacy. God still exists, but he is not watching Raskolnikov–at least, not until the end of the novel when Raskolnikov accepts Christ. Until that moment, Raskolnikov is being watched by us, the readers. The crucial difference between this and the theater is that we are invisible. In David’s story the audience is in some important way irrelevant; in Macbeth’s the audience is visible and silent, and soliloquy does indeed have the feeling not only of an address to an audience but of a conversation with an interlocutor–us–who will not respond, a blocked dialogue. In Raskolnikov’s story the audience–the reader–is invisible but all-seeing; so the reader has replaced David’s God and Macbeth’s audience. (146)


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